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Mahathir strikes through court to remove 2 from RCI

 | August 9, 2017

Former PM says there is element of bias as Mohd Sidek Hassan and Saw Choo Bon were also part of a task force that conducted a preliminary probe into forex losses.

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PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad has turned to the courts for justice a day after failing to recuse the chairman and a member of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) set up to investigate Bank Negara’s forex losses in the 1990s.

The former prime minister today filed a judicial review leave application to quash the RCI’s refusal to remove Mohd Sidek Hassan and Saw Choo Boon from the tribunal.

He also sought a mandamus order from the court to compel the government to advise the king to revoke Sidek and Saw’s appointments to the RCI.

In addition, Mahathir asked that the five-member RCI panel be suspended from sitting pending the outcome of the court decision.

He named all the RCI members, its secretary Yusof Ismail and the government as respondents.

In his application, the 92-year-old said the RCI composition was a breach of natural justice as Sidek and Saw were previously members of another task force that conducted a preliminary investigation on the losses suffered by the central bank in the 1990s.

“Both had the opportunity to evaluate evidence collected by the task force before submitting it to the government,” he said.

Mahathir said as a concerned party, his constitutional rights would be violated if the RCI acted contrary to the rules of natural justice by being biased and withholding his right to be heard.

However, he clarified that his application was confined to the composition of the RCI, and not to stop the tribunal’s recommendation since the proceeding had not started.

Yesterday, the RCI dismissed the applications of Mahathir and Anwar Ibrahim to disqualify Sidek and Saw on grounds of bias.

Sidek said the tribunal would function as its members were appointed by the king.

He also said lawyers for concerned parties could be present during the proceedings but any questions raised must be relevant to the terms of reference of the RCI.

The forex scandal occurred during Mahathir’s tenure as prime minister and while Anwar was finance minister, between 1993 and 1998.

Apart from Sidek and Saw, who is Special Task Force on Facilitating Business co-chairman, others in the tribunal are High Court judge Kamaludin Md Said, Bursa Malaysia Berhad chief executive officer Tajuddin Atan, and member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Pushpanathan S A Kanagarayar.

The scope of inquiry is to determine the bank’s involvement in the foreign exchange activities and whether laws were violated. It has also been tasked to suggest proposals to prevent the repeat of such incidents.


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